My lust is too deep for one body
No singular name will suffice
And thus, the phoenix incarnates
Inflamed by my undying vice
Music was Erica’s first language. Born to a famous rockstar father and an artistically gifted mother, she was surrounded by beauty from her time in the womb. At age four, she began piano lessons and wrote songs for her cat. By twelve, she had completed half a musical.
Gifted though Erica was, her passion was also a curse. Though she would not know it until decades later, her appearance was identical to classic depictions of the Greek God Eros, whose arrow poisoned people with romantic obsession. Likewise, Erica’s heart was on fire, and she couldn’t breathe without unleashing the flame into the arts. It could not be coincidence that she named her band ‘Erosian Exile’ and depicted herself in Erosia with white wings, only to later discover her likeness to the lovesick Eros.
Yet this burning romanticism made Erica feel alienated among civilized people. Their world was packed with laws and lies that felt too far from her inner animal. To this day, she insists, “I learned most of my behavior from my first cat.” She sang to her tape recorder in the woods and drew mobile homes in her diary, dreaming of an autonomous life with her keyboard in tow. She avoided television and video games and felt most alive in a world of honest emotion. Unfortunately, that world existed only in her mind.
At age eight, Erica found two characters who reflected her soul. Eponine, from Les Misérables, who was homeless and in love with a man who did not want her; and the Phantom of the Opera, who was ugly on the outside, but seduced a woman into his rich musical world. Both were outcasted romantics, carving their own paths with the flame of obsession – much like Erica. Such stories felt more real than her civilized cage, and inspired her to bring her visions to life through music and theater. If she could share her inner world, she would no longer be isolated, and might even find true love. She soon composed two 400-page novels and half a musical about a homeless prostitute on another planet. Despite her tender age, these works explored the themes of sexuality, survival, and sacrifice in harrowing depth. She felt catharsis as her suffering transformed into beauty.
At age 11, Erica had an epiphany that revealed to her complex music theory. Music is Divine Symmetry. By 13, she had a growing career, selling original songs to playwrites, gigging weekly in restaurants, and performing in theater. Yet she could not land lead roles. Directors told her: “You have the best voice we’ve ever auditioned, but you’re not pretty enough to be an ingenue.” But Erica pressed on. She practiced singing, piano, and acting, and even struggled through a dance class that left her in tears. Each year, she earned 100% scores on statewide vocal competitions, singing opera in foreign languages. At Berklee College of Music summer program, her test scores landed her a place in the highest music theory classes alongside aged professionals. After much toil, lead roles began to find her.
As her sixteenth birthday approached, she prepared to audition for Eponine on Broadway. Yet she was forced to miss the audition due to an unknown illness. Soon enough, she could no longer move or swallow, suffered 105 fevers, and found herself at the brink of death. After several misdiagnoses, it turned out she had Chronic Lyme Disease. Though she recovered her faculties, she would be dependent on medications indefinitely, and her voice was reduced to a whisper forever. Any hope of singing, or achieving autonomy, was gone. Her hard-earned beauty and deepest passion had been stolen. Though her body survived, her soul had died.
In the absence of passion and purpose, Erica was consumed by insatiable hunger. She devolved into isolated musings, poring over art, workouts and dreams in a desperate fight to process her loss. It seemed she was undead, but no longer human. By ripping herself down to the animal within, she embodied her most primal energy, and became Anäeia.
Anäeia – evoking the word ‘Annihilate’ – represented the destruction of a soul. After battling death, she grasped desperately at life, consuming passion wherever she could find it. As she expressed her insatiable desire, she was known as a conquerer and heartbreaker. In photos, her eyes reflect the suffering and hunger of the world. Alone, we are all Øne. Her wildness makes it clear that we are only free when we have nothing to lose.
Anäeia hunted to fulfill the desires of the flesh; a pale imitation of the purpose and catharsis she’d once found in music. Desperate to lure her demons from the unconscious, she ripped herself apart until she experienced a silence of the soul. Anäeia had been killed, and Erica’s body was left empty.
Then, suddenly, a vision came to her from the aether. Immediately, she understood that her life’s purpose was to channel it into a series of books. Although music was her first language and she lacked skill with words, she sensed the Gods had kept her alive just to grant her this vision. She studied religion, history, psychology, and archetypes in order to build a vocabulary to express it – which would later become the fantasy series, Night Gem.
Yet she could not embrace a project of such great scope while her past haunted her so acutely. Between her renewed sense of purpose, her whispery singing voice, and her broken dreams, she was burning alive. There were still songs to write, and she needed to capture them. While keeping the series on the back-burner, she embraced the last dying embers of her singing voice. Thus, she rose from the ashes.
Erica Xenne, Prince Ruby Valentine
Some people believe Erosia doesn’t exist, and others claim it can only be found in a dream. Some suggest that in order to see Erosia, one must believe in it first. It is up to you to decide what you will, and you may call me mad if you wish. Either way, I will live my life as a vessel through which passion emerges.
As Erica recovered from the throes of trauma, visions of Erosia rushed forth in a cathartic fury. Through a variety of mediums, she unleashed her soul into the arts. As she captured her vampiric hunger in Prince Ruby Valentine and her hopeless romanticism in Erica Xenne, she found herself channeling the timeless dance between lust and innocence.
The Legend of Erosia began when Prince Ruby Valentine killed the Erosian Queen in childbirth. Viewing himself as poison, he forsook his royal duties and sought reprieve. He found the muse Erica Xenne, who had come from the outer islands. As their tragic romance unfolded, Ruby lost faith in love, and disappeared from Erosia. Erica asked the guardians to send her after Ruby, despite their warning that her magic would be lost outside Erosia. Thus she became an Erosian Exile.
Erica Xenne, Prince Ruby Valentine, Riki Jane Wild
In Dystopia, Erica found herself ill, with her voice reduced to a whisper. Ruby had adopted a lifestyle of conquering women and intoxicating himself to oblivion. Pining for his devotion and feeling out of place in this bizarre industrial hell, Erica bled in a musical fury. Noticing her talent, the sassy Riki Jane Wild pushed her to organize her songs. Erica feared Erosia’s beauty could not be replicated in Dystopia, let alone through her whispery voice. Yet Ruby was broken, and Erica knew her music would remind him that he was a Prince.
As she unleashed her broken heart unto the piano, the ghost of her voice rose from the ashes. The sound was elusive, broken and raw, but she fought with blood, sweat and tears to capture any shred of potency. Owing to her many health setbacks, others advised her to pass her songs to a full-voiced singer, but she sang back:
Tell me the odds
I’ll beat them senseless
Summon the Gods
They’ll be defenseless!
She branded her project Erosian Exile and recorded her first album, Slave to Freedom, a musical conversation between her and Ruby through vocals and guitar, channeling the music they had played together in Erosia. She wrote two more albums, Fire Castle and The Vampire and the Void, but her whispery singing voice evaded her before she could record them.
Still, the effort was worthwhile, as the album inspired her and Ruby both to turn their lives around. Ruby indulged long walks and photography – posted on his own website – and the two immersed themselves in the Night Gem series – a magical, passionate saga which culminates in the creation of Erosia.
So Carnal, it’s Spiritual
After some time in Dystopia, Ruby understood that his exile from Erosia was fueled by his distance from God. The Erosians worshipped a God whose name means ‘Animal’ – yet by deifying him, they forsook his animalism. God was seen as ‘perfect,’ and no one could live up to his image. Night Gem is a story of Erosia’s creation, which exposes its Gods as messy, suffering mortals. The story reminds people to honor their instincts, and to discover the holiness therein. The enemy is within. The hero is within. The savior is within.
As Erica struggled to write the series, she was overwhelmed by the complexity of language. Her visions were pure and she felt unworthy of doing them justice. Yet over time, the characters came to life, and Erica saw her heart laid bare. Words poured through her as music once had. A vessel through which passion emerges. All her life, Erica felt too primal to live among others – but now, she understood why she was human. She was made to bring Erosia to Earth. Embracing her purpose, wholly and honestly, made her feel worthy of the name ‘Animal.’
‘Animal’ encompasses Erica’s carnal philosophy and spiritual journey. It reflects the innocent romanticism of Erica Xenne, the insatiable hunger of Prince Ruby Valentine, and the warrior spirit of Riki Jane Wild. Most importantly, ‘Animal’ captures the raw passion that marked her childhood. And when she called herself Animal on a forum, she met her soulmate and lured him from across the world.